A Summary of the Prophet’s Life
Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) was born in Mecca, fifty-three years before hijra. His father 'Abd Allah died before his son's birth or a few months after it. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) lived with his mother Amina and his grandfather 'Abd al-Muttalib. When he was six years old, he lost his mother. His grandfather now took complete charge of his doubly orphaned grandson, and it soon became obvious that his special love for his deceased son 'Abd Allah had been transferred to 'Abd Allah's son.
Two years after his mother's death, Muhammad was bereaved of his grandfather. Before his death, 'Abd al-Muttalib entrusted his grandson to the care of one his sons, Abu Talib. Abu Talib loved his nephew just as 'Abd al-Muttalib used to do before him. He loved Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) so much that he gave him precedence over his own children. Abu Talib's wife, Fatima bint Asad, did all she could to substitute for the boy's mother.
In his twenties, Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) made a journey in the service of a wealthy widow named Khadijah. So faithfully did he transact Khadijah's business, and so excellent was the report of his behavior that Khadijah soon afterwards married Muhammad (S.A.W.A.). Although Khadijah was fifteen years older than Muhammad (S.A.W.A.), this marriage proved to be a very happy one.
This marriage gave Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) rank among the notables of Mecca while his conduct earned him the surname of al-Amin, the 'trustworthy.'
From his early childhood, the light of nobility and grandeur was shining on his face. He never worshipped any idols nor ever told any lies. Before his Mission, he took part in great deeds. He shared in hilf al-fudhul.1 Moreover, in rebuilding of the Ka'ba, he acted as an umpire.
It was his practice to retire for a month every year to the cave of Hira', a desert hill not far from Mecca, for meditation and worshipping the One God. It was in Hira' one night toward the end of his quiet month when the first revelation came to him while he was forty years old. He heard a voice said ﴾Read.﴿ He replied, “I cannot read”. The voice said again, ﴾Read﴿. He replied, “I cannot read.” A third time the voice commanded, ﴾Read.﴿ He said, “What can I read?” The voice said ﴾Read in the Name of your Lord Who created; created man from a clinging mass. Read and your Lord is the most generous, Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he did not know.﴿2 (Q: 96/ 1-5).
After receiving the revelation that was unprecedented to him, Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) returned home. God favored 'Ali b. Abi Talib for he was brought up in the care of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) before the advent of Islam. 'Ali was the first man who believed in the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) and prayed with him. Zayd b. Haritha the freedman of the Messenger of God was the first male to accept Islam after 'Ali.
People began to accept Islam, both men and women, in large numbers until its fame spread throughout Mecca. After three years from the time that the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) received his first revelation, God directed him to announce his religion. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) was commanded in the following words ﴾So proclaim what you have been commanded, and turn away from the polytheists.﴿ (Q: 15/94).
Again, He revealed the Warning Verse (aya indhar.) ﴾Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk, and lower your wing to the faithful who follow you, but if they disobey you, say 'I am absolved of what you do'﴿. (Q: 26/214-216).
'Ali says when these verses came down, the Messenger of God ordered me to get some food ready and he invited his nearest kinsfolk; then he said, “O sons of 'Abd al-Muttalib, I know of no Arab who has come to his people with a nobler message than mine. I have brought you the best of this world and the next. God has ordered me to call you to Him; so which of you will co-operate with me in this matter and become my brother, my executor, and my successor being among you?” The men remained silent and I ('Ali), though the youngest, said, “O Prophet of God, I will be your helper in this matter.” He laid his hand on the back of my neck and said, “This is my brother, my executer and my successor among you. Hearken to him and obey him.”
The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) continued to disseminate Islam as God ordered him. When Quraysh saw that he would not yield to them, some of their leading men went to Abu Talib and said, “O Abu Talib, either you should stop your nephew or you must let us get at him.” Hearing this Abu Talib sent for his nephew and told him what he had heard, but he finally said, “Go and say what you please, for by God, I will never give you up on any account.”
When Quraysh perceived that Abu Talib had refused to give up the Prophet, they incited people against the Companions of the Messenger of God who had become Muslims. God protected His Apostle from them through his uncle, Abu Talib, who mentioned the superiority of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) among them so that they might extend their kindness to him. He called for Banu Hashim and Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib to stand with him in protecting the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.).
Quraysh continued their enmity to those who followed the Prophet (S.A.W.A.); every clan that contained Muslims was attacked, imprisoned, thrashed, exposed to the burning heat of Mecca, their food and water supplies were cut, so that they may leave the new religion of Islam. When the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) saw the affliction of his Companions, and he could not protect them he said, “It would be better for you, if you were to go to Abyssinia, for the king will not tolerate injustice and it is a friendly country, until such time as Allah shall relieve you from your distress.” Thereupon his Companions went to Abyssinia and this was the first hijra in Islam.
Quraysh knew that the Companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had settled in a land in peace and safety, and Islam had begun to spread among the tribes. They decided among themselves to write a document in which they should put a boycott on Banu Hashim and Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib that they should not marry their women nor give woman to them, and that they should neither buy from them nor sell to them, and when they concurred, they drafted a deed. Then they solemnly agreed on the points and hung the deed up in the middle of Ka'ba. The two clans of Banu Hashim and Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib went to Abu Talib, and entered with him into his shi'b (alley).
Abu Lahab went out from Banu Hashim and helped Quraysh. They remained there for two or three years, until they were exhausted, nothing reaching them except what came from their friends unknown to Quraysh. When a number of goodwill Quraysh took steps to annul the boycott against them, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) said to Abu Talib, “O uncle verily my Lord Allah has prevailed the termite against Quraysh's deed and it had already eaten it except the words 'In the name of Allah'.” Therefore, Abu Talib went to Quraysh and informed them of what he had heard. He said, “See! In case he is right, annul the deed, and if he is wrong I will get him to you.” They agreed on it. When they found it true, some men went up to the document and tore it into pieces.
Abu Talib, a man of faith from Quraysh who concealed his faith and Khadijah died in the same year. Khadijah always strengthened the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.), lightened his burden, proclaimed his truth and belittled men's opposition. With Abu Talib's death, the Prohpet (S.A.W.A.) lost a trusted ally in personal life, and in defense and protection against unfriendly tribes. Abu Talib died some years before the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) migrated to Medina, thenceforth Quraysh began to treat him in an offensive way that they would not have dared to demonstrate in his uncle's lifetime.
God wished to display His religion openly, and glorify His Apostle and fulfill His promise to him. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) met a number of the Helpers at one of the fairs; and while he was conversing with the Arab tribes, as it was his wont, at al-'Aqaba he met a number of the Khazraj whom God intended to benefit. He invited them to sit with him so that he can recite Qur'an and expound Islam to them. The Khazaraji returned to Medina as believers.
In the following year, twelve Helpers (the Twelve Chiefs)3 attended the fair and met the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) at al-'Aqaba. This was the first 'Aqaba where they gave the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) 'the pledge of women'. It was before the duty of making war was upon them. The second 'Aqaba contained conditions more than the first one. Now they bound themselves to war against all and sundry for God and His Apostle, while the Apostle promised them for faithful service, thus the reward of Paradise. Afterward, some of his Companions left for Medina, while he stayed in Mecca with 'Ali and Abu Bakr waiting for God's permission to migrate.
When Quraysh saw that the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had a party of Companions not of their tribes and outside their territory, they assembled in their council chamber to discuss what they should do in regard to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.), for they were now in fear of him. They finally decided that each clan should provide a young, powerful, well-born aristocrat warrior; and at a given moment, all these chosen men together should fall upon Muhammad, each striking him a mortal blow, so that his blood may be on all the clans. The Banu 'Abd Manaf would not be able to fight all tribes of Quraysh, so they would accept the blood money -which will be offered to them- in place of revenge. Thus, Quraysh would be relieved of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and responsibility for his blood would lie on all the clans.
Gabriel now came to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and told him what he should do. He told 'Ali about his departure and ordered him to stay behind in Mecca in order to return the goods, which men had deposited with the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) for anyone in Mecca who had a valuable property that he was concerned about would leave it to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) because of his well-known honesty and trustworthiness.
The young chosen to kill him agreed to meet outside the Prophet's house after nightfall. While they were waiting, until their numbers were complete, they heard the sound of women's voices coming from the house. They did not like to violate the privacy of women, so they waited until their victim came out. When the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) saw what they were doing, he told 'Ali to lie on his bed and to wrap himself in his green Hadhrami mantle.
Then he began to recite the Sura Ya Sin. When he came to the words: ﴾And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them; then We have blindfolded them, so they do not see.﴿ (Q: 36/9), He went out of the house; and God took away their sight, so that they did not see him. In the morning when 'Ali rose and went to the door, still wrapped in the green Hadhrami mantle, they realized that somehow they have been outwitted.
They waited a little longer, but there was no sign of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.). Meanwhile the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) had returned to Abu Bakr, and losing no time, he picked him up and they proceeded toward the cave of Thaur. Having entered it, by God's order, a tree about the height of a man grew in front of it covering the entrance; a wild pigeon made her nest in the tree and sat on her eggs; and over the gap, left between the tree and the wall of the cave, a spider wove its web.
The young men continued their search. Some of them climbed up to the cave. The voices were not far off -five or six men at least- they were still approaching. Abu Bakr felt grief. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) looked at him and said, ﴾”Do not grieve; Allah is indeed with us.” Then Allah sent down His composure upon him.﴿ (Q: 9/40).4
The two of them stayed in the cave for three days. Soon before dawn of the twelfth day after leaving the cave they reached Quba' where most of the Emigrants from Mecca had first stayed and where many of them still were. They stayed there for three days during which the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) laid the foundations of a mosque. On the Friday morning, he set out from Quba' and at noon, he and his Companions stepped in the valley of Ranuna' to pray, and it was the first Friday prayer in Medina. 'Ali stayed in Mecca for three days and nights until he had returned the deposits, which the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) held. He later joined the Messenger of God in Quba'.
After a few months of his arrival in Medina, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A) signed a convention between the Muslims and the Medinans, and the Jews, which is called 'the first constitutional law in Islam'. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) instituted brother-hood between his fellow Emigrants and the Helpers and said, “Let each of you take a brother in God.” He himself took 'Ali b. Abi Talib by hand and said, “This is my brother.” Therefore, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and 'Ali became brothers.
During the second year of hijra, the Battle of Badr took place. The Muslims achieved a decisive victory against the pagans. Abu Jahl and forty-nine of the principals of Quraysh were killed, and seventy of the polytheists were taken prisoners. Some twenty-two of the bravest men of Quraysh including al-'As b. Sa'id, al-Walid b. 'Utba b. Rabi'a and Nawfal b. Khuwaylid were killed by 'Ali b. Abi Talib.5 'Umar b. al-Khattab killed only one, Abu Bakr killed no one,6 and 'Uthman b. 'Affan was not present at Badr.7 The unique bravery of 'Ali was one of the crucial factors of the victory.
When the unbelieving Quraysh met disaster at Badr, the survivors returned to Mecca. They incited the tribes to fight the Prophet and get their revenge for those who had lost at Badr. Quraysh mustered their troops with two hundred horses, which they had led along with them; seven hundred men had worn armor and Abu Sufyan supplied them with three thousand camels.
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) marched towards them with a thousand of his Companions. Before the start of war, 'Abd Allah b. Ubayy withdrew with a third of the troops. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) proceeded to Uhud with seven hundred people who had no horses or camels. There were fifty archers among them and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) put over them 'Abd Allah b. Jubayr. He said to them, “Keep the cavalry away from us with your arrows and let them not come on us from the rear whether the battle goes in our favor or against us; and keep your place so that we cannot be approached from your direction.”
The people went on fighting until the battle grew hot. Then God sent down His help to the Muslims and fulfilled His promise. They slew the enemy with the sword until they cut them off from their camp and there was an obvious rout. The archers turned aside to the camp making for the spoil when the enemy had been cut off from it; thus they opened the rear to the cavalry and the Muslims were attacked from behind. Someone called out “Ha! Muhammad has been killed.” The Muslims turned back and the enemy turned back on them.
After the Muslims had killed the standard-bearers,8 the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) saw a group of Quraysh polytheists. He told 'Ali to attack them. He attacked and scattered their group and killed one of them. Again, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) saw a group of them and he ordered 'Ali to attack them. He did so, and scattered their group and killed another one. Gabriel came down and said, “O Apostle of God, this is an example of sacrifice and brotherhood.” The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) confirmed the remark of Gabriel and said, “I am from 'Ali and 'Ali is from me.”
Gabriel said, “And I am from you two.” Then a voice was heard in the battlefield, “There is no sword except Dhu al-Fiqar and there is no brave man except 'Ali”.9 The enemy attacked from behind and slew many Muslims until he made its way to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.). A stone hit the Prophet, he fell on his side, his face scored, his lip injured, and his incisor was broken. The Muslims fled to mountain. Although Prophet cried loudly, “O So-and-sos return. I am the Apostle of God”, but they did not pay attention to him and climbed up the mountain.10
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) remained firmly and only 'Ali b. Abi Talib, Talha b. 'Ubayd Allah and al-Zubayr b. 'Awwam stood with him and protected him bravely.11 'Uthman b. 'Affan with two of the Helpers fled until they reached al-Ja'lab, a hill near Medina. They stayed there for three days. Then they returned to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.).12 God reproached those who fled for running away from their Prophet and paying no attention to him when he called them ﴾When you were fleeing without paying any attention to anyone, while the Messenger of God was calling you from your rear.﴿ (Q: 3/153). Later when they asked 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar about 'Uthman, he answered that he committed a great sin as he fled at Uhud but God forgave him for it.13
Quraysh had lost only twenty-two out of three thousand. Then they counted the losses of the Muslims and found about sixty-eight dead. In vain, they searched for the body of the Prophet and while they were doing so Wahshi went back to the body of Hamza, ripped open his belly, cut off his liver and brought it to Hind bint 'Utba (Mu'awiya's mother). She took it from him and bit away a piece of it, chewed it, swallowed a morsel of it in fulfillment of her vow and spat out the rest. She asked him where his body was, and when they reached the body, she cut off his nose and ears and other parts of his flesh. Then she took off her necklaces, pendants and anklets, gave them to Wahshi, and told the women who were with her to mutilate others of the dead.
The pagans returned to Mecca and God scattered their group. The Messenger of God marched out as a demonstration against the enemy to let them know that he was persuading them, so that they might think he was at strength, and that their losses had not weakened them. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) went as far as Hamra' al-Asad, about eight miles from Medina and stayed there for three days, then, he returned to Medina.14
The 'Battle of the Trench' took place in A.H. 5. Huyayy b. Akhtab and other Jewish leaders from Khaybar formed a party against the Prophet (S.A.W.A.). Their hope was concentrated on the preparation of Quraysh for a final attack on the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.). They went to Quraysh at Mecca and invited them to join them in an attack on the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) so that they might get rid of him altogether. The Jews undertook to rouse up all the nomads in the plain of Najd. The Banu Asad readily agreed to help them and so did the Banu Ghatfan. They mustered an army by nearly two thousand men of the Ghatfanite clans. The Jews also succeeded in securing a contingent of seven hundred strong from the Banu Sulaym.
Quraysh themselves and their closest allies were four thousand strong. Together the two armies were estimated to be a total of more than three times the strength of Quraysh at Uhud. Quraysh marched under the leadership of Abu Sufyan b. Harb; and Ghatfan were led by 'Uyayna b. Hisn. When the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) heard their intention, he summoned his followers to a consultation at which many opinions were expressed. Finally Salman rose up and said, “O Apostle of God, in Persia when we feared an attack of horse we would surround ourselves with a trench, so allow us to dig a trench around us now.”15 Everyone agreed to this plan with enthusiasm. Time was short. The Muslims worked hard on the trench and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) himself worked at it, and encouraged his followers with the reward in heaven.
Scarcely had the trench been finished -it took Muslims six days in all- when news came that the army of Quraysh was approaching. As they drew nearer, they were amazed to see a trench laid between them and the archers. They lined the whole way along it in its further side, but some equestrians of Quraysh, among whom were 'Amr b. 'Abd Wudd, 'Ikrima b. Abi Jahl, Hubayra b. Abi Wahb and Dhirar b. al-Khattab, galloped forward until they stopped at the trench. 'Ikrima suddenly spotted a narrow section of the trench.
He succeeded in making his horse leap the gap, and he was followed by 'Amr b. 'Abd Wudd, Hubayra b. Abi Wahb and Dhirar b. al-Khattab. However, by the time, the fourth man had crossed 'Ali and some other Muslims with him who were guarding the narrow section made it once more impregnable, thereby also cutting off the retreat of the equestrians who were now on their side.
When 'Amr b. 'Abd Wudd issued his challenge for a single combat, 'Ali got up, clad in armor and asked the Prophet's permission to fight him, but the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) told him to sit down, for it was 'Amr. Then 'Amr repeated his challenge saying, “Where is your garden of which you say that those you lose in battle will enter? Can't you send me a man to fight me?” Again, 'Ali asked the Prophet's permission and again the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) told him to sit down. 'Amr called out for the third time and 'Ali asked the Prophet's permission to fight him, even if he was 'Amr, and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) let him go. 'Amr asked who he was, and 'Ali b. Abi Talib told him his name.
He said, “Let it be one of your uncles who is older than you, my nephew, for I don't want to shed your blood.” 'Ali answered, “But I want to shed your blood.” He became angry and drew his sword that flashed like fire and advanced in his anger. 'Ali said to him, “How can I fight you when you are on horse? Dismount and be on a level with me.” Therefore, he got off his horse and came at him and 'Ali advanced with shield. 'Amr aimed a blow, which cut deeply into the shield so that the sword stuck in it. Nevertheless, 'Ali gave him a blow on the vein at the base of the neck and he fell down to the ground. The dust rose and the Messenger of God heard the cry of 'Allahu Akbar' and knew that 'Ali had killed him.
As he came towards the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) smiling with joy, 'Umar asked him if he had stripped him of his armor, for it was the best that could be found among the Arabs. He answered, “When I had struck him down he turned his private parts of his body towards me and I felt ashamed to despoil him, moreover, he had said that he did not want to shed my blood because my father was a friend of his.”16 With 'Amr killed, 'Ikrima b. Abi Jahl and the other two men threw away their spears as they run away from 'Amr.
The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) and his Companions remained in fear and difficulty when the enemy came from every side. Then Nu'aym b. Mas'ud of the Ghatfan clan came to him saying he had become a Muslim though his people did not know of it and asked the Prophet what he could do for them. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) said, “You are only one man among us, so go and awake distrust among the enemy to draw them off from us if you can, for war is deceit.”
Thereupon Nu'aym went off to Ghatfan and Quraysh and to the Jews and sowed the seed of distrust among them. God broke up their alliance and sent a bitter cold wind against them in the winter nights, which upset their cooking pots and overthrew their tents.
Quraysh faced a great disaster. Their horses and camels were dying. The Jews had broken their words to Quraysh. The violence of the wind left them with neither cooking pots, nor fire, nor tents to count on. Abu Sufyan told Quraysh to be off, for he was going. Then he went to his camel and mounted it. When Ghatfan heard of what Quraysh had done, they broke up and returned to their country. The siege of Medina was over after fifteen days. In the morning, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) and the Muslims left the trench and returned to Medina laying their arms aside.
In the year of Hudaybiya, A.H. 6, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) went out on a little pilgrimage in Dhu al-Qa'da with no intention of making war and took with him seventy camels for sacrifice. There were seven hundred men so that each camel was on the behalf of ten men. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) went as far as the pass of al-Murar and when his camel knelt and the men said, “The camel won't get up,” he said, “It has not refused and such is not its nature, but the one who restrained the elephant from Mecca is keeping it back. Today whatever condition Quraysh is in, if they ask me to show kindness to kindred I will agree to.” Then he told the people to dismount. When the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had rested, Budayl b. Warqa' Khuza'i came to him with some men of Khuza'a and asked him what he had come for.
He told them that he had not come for war but to go on pilgrimage and venerate the sacred precincts, but Quraysh suspected him and spoke roughly to him, saying, “He may not have come wanting war but by Allah he shall never come in here against our will, nor shall the Arabs ever say that we have allowed it.”
The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) summoned 'Uthman and sent him to Abu Sufyan and the chiefs of Quraysh to tell them that he had not come for war but merely to visit the House of God and to venerate its sanctity. As 'Uthman entered or was about to enter Mecca Aban b. Sa'id b. al-'As met him and carried 'Uthman in front of him. Then he gave 'Uthman his protection until he could convey the Apostle of God's message to them, but Quraysh kept him a prisoner with them.
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and the Muslims were informed that 'Uthman had been killed. When the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) heard that he had been killed he said that they would not leave until they fought the enemy, and summoned the men to give their undertaking. The pledge of al-ridhwan took place under a tree. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) took their pledge unto death, or rather their undertaking that they would not run away. Not one of the Muslims who were present failed to give his hand except al-Jadd b. Qays.
After a long discussion, peace was made and nothing remained but to write an agreement. 'Umar jumped up and went to Abu Bakr saying, “Is he not God's Apostle and are we not Muslims, and are they not polytheists? Then, why should we agree to what is demeaning for our religion?” He replied, “Stick to what he says, for I testify that he is God's Apostle.” The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) summoned 'Ali and told him to write the agreement. When the peace was concluded the Messenger of God slaughtered sacrificial animals, sat down and shaved his head and his Companions did so.
In the seventh year of hijra, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) marched against the Jews in Khaybar. He conquered their fortresses one by one. As he came to Qamus, the strongest castle, where Marhab lived, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) gave the standard to Abu Bakr. He fought but returned having suffered losses and not taken it. On the morrow he sent 'Umar and the same thing happened. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) said, “If Allah wills, tomorrow I will give the standard to a man who is an assailant not a runaway, he loves Allah and His Apostle; and Allah and His Apostle love him. He will not come back until Allah conquers by his means.”
Thus, he called for 'Ali who was suffering from sore eye at the time. The Prophet of God applied his saliva in his eye, saying, “Take this standard and go with it until God gives victory through you.” 'Ali went off with it until he reached the fortress. Marhab the Jew came out of Khaybar. He was wearing a hamlet in which a stone had made a hole showing the white of his head. He was reciting:
Khaybar knows that I am Marhab
The carriers of arms; a hero who has been tested.
I am the one, whose mother calls him a lion,
Like a lion of the forests, fierce in strength,
With my sword, I will make you weigh the weight of an ear torn off.
They exchanged blows. 'Ali came quickly against him and struck him. He cut through the hole in the hamlet and through his head so that his sword reached his teeth. Marhab fell dead. At Marhab's death, those who had gone out with him withdrew and barred the gate of the fortress to keep Muslims out. 'Ali advanced against it, pulled out the stone gate of the fortress which was four cubits (dhira') long, two cubits wide, and one cubit thick. He used it as a bridge across the trench so that they might go across and conquer the fortress. The Muslims entered the fortress and seized the booty.17
Mecca was conquered in A. H. 8. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) ordered preparations to be made for a raid. Later he informed the men that he was going to Mecca and ordered to take careful preparations. He said, “O God, take eyes and ears from Quraysh so that we may take them by surprise in their land.” The men got themselves ready and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) went on with 10'000 Muslims. Quraysh were completely ignorant of the fact and did not even know what he was doing until the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) camped at Marr al-Zahran.
'Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, said, “Alas, Quraysh, if the Messenger of God enters Mecca by force before the Quraysh come to ask for protection that will be the end of Quraysh for ever.” Therefore, he mounted the Apostle of God's white mule and went out until he came upon Abu Sufyan. He told him that the Messenger of God was there with his army, “If he takes you, he will behead you, so ride on the back of this mule so that I can take you to him and ask for you his protection.” When the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) saw him he asked, “Isn't it time that you recognize that there is no god but Allah?” He answered, “You are dearer to me than my father and mother. How great your clemency, honor, and kindness is! By God I thought that had there been another god he would have continued to help me.”
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said, “Woe to you Abu Sufyan; isn't it time that you recognize that I am God's Apostle?” He answered, “As to that I still have some doubt.” 'Abbas said to him, “Submit and testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God before you lose your head.” Feeling the sharpness of the sword on the back of his neck, Abu Sufyan pronounced the two testimonies (shahadatayn). The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) wished to enter the secure sanctuary of Mecca in peace, therefore, he forgave him and said, “He who enters Abu Sufyan's house is safe, and he who locks his door is safe, and he who enters the mosque is safe.”
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had instructed to his commanders when they entered Mecca only to fight those who resisted them except a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of Ka'ba.18 The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) ordered Sa'd b. 'Ubada to enter Mecca, carrying the standard. He entered Mecca, shouting, “Today is the day of violating and bloodletting.” One of the Emigrants heard him and reported it to the Prophet. He ordered 'Ali to go to Sa'd and take the standard away from him, and told him to be the one who enter Mecca with it.19
On the day of the conquest the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) entered Mecca, circumambulated the House of God seven times on his camel, touching the Black Stone with a stick he had in his hand. Many idols in the Ka'ba were strengthened with lead. He stood by them with the stick in his hand, saying, ﴾The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished. Indeed falsehood is bound to vanish.﴿ (Q: 17/ 81). Then he pointed to them with his stick and they collapsed on their backs one after another.
He stood at the door of Ka'ba and said, “There is no god but Allah alone; He has no associate. He has made good His promise and helped His servant. He has put to flight the confederates alone.” Then he added, “O Quraysh! What do you think that I am about to do with you?” They replied, “Good. You are a noble brother, son of a noble brother.” He said, “Go your way for you are the freed ones.” Thus the Meccans were called tulaqa'. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) stayed in Mecca after he had conquered it for fifteen nights, then he returned to Medina.
In A.H. 9, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) ordered his Companions to get ready and told them that he was heading for the Byzantines (Tabuk). He went forward energetically with preparations and ordered the men to get ready with all speed. He left 'Ali behind to look after his family. The hypocrites spoke evil of 'Ali, saying that he had been left behind because he was a burden to the Apostle and he wanted to get rid of him.
On hearing this, 'Ali seized his weapons and caught up with the Messenger of God when he was halting in al-Jurf, and repeated to him what the hypocrites were saying. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) replied, “They lie. I left you behind because of what I had left behind, so go back and represent me in my family and yours. Are you not content, 'Ali, to stand to me as Aaron to Moses, except that there will be no prophet after me?” So 'Ali returned to Medina and the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) went on his way. When the Prophet reached Tabuk, Yuhanna b. Ru'ba governor of Ayla, came and made a treaty with him, and paid him the poll tax. The people of Jarba' and Adhruh came and paid the poll tax. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) stayed in Tabuk some ten nights, then, he returned to Medina.20
In the same year, he sent Abu Bakr in command of the pilgrimage to enable Muslims to perform their hajj. As he had left, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) summoned 'Ali and ordered him to proclaim the first section of “the Renunciation Chapter” (Sura al-Bara'a) to the people on the Day of Sacrifice, when they assemble at Mina. No unbeliever shall enter Paradise and no polytheist shall make pilgrimage after this year, and no naked person shall circumambulate the House [of God]. He who has an agreement with the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) has it for his appointed time.
'Ali went forth on the Apostle of God's camel, al-'Adhba', and overtook Abu Bakr at Dhu al-Hulayfa. When he saw him, Abu Bakr asked whether he was commander or commanded. He said that Abu Bakr was the commanded one. He took “the Renunciation Chapter” from Abu Bakr, and gave him the choice of continuing to ride with him or returning to the Prophet. 'Ali, on the Day of Sacrifice, arose and proclaimed what the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) had ordered him. While Abu Bakr returned and asked the Prophet, “What has come down concerning me?” He answered, “Gabriel came down and said the act of renunciation should not be transmitted from you except by you or a man of your own.”21
When Islam had spread after the conquest of Mecca and the raids that followed it, delegations began to visit the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.). Among those who came in a delegation to visit him were the Christians of Najran including Abu Haritha the bishop of Najran with thirty of the Christians, who did not accept the Islamic doctrine about Jesus Christ. They discussed about their beliefs in Jesus and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) answered them. Nevertheless, they did not agree with him.
God revealed these verses, ﴾Should anyone argue with you about them, After the knowledge that has come to you, say come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly, and call down Allah's curse upon the liars.﴿ (Q: 3/61).
The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) recited it to the Christians and challenged them to a mutual imprecation (mubahala). On the next morning, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) came with 'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and Fatima.22 When the bishop saw the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) with those who were with him, he asked about them. They told him, “That is his cousin 'Ali. Those children are al-Hasan and al-Husayn, the sons of his daughter by 'Ali and that is Fatima, the dearest of people to him”. The Christians excused themselves from mubahala and agreed to pay the poll tax.
In the tenth year of hijra, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) prepared to make the pilgrimage. He had already sent 'Ali to Najran and he met him in Mecca when the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) was in pilgrim garb (ihram). Then he went to him and reported the result of his journey. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) told him to go and circumambulate the House of God and remove the pilgrim garb as the others had done.
He replied, “I said when I put on the pilgrim garb, O God, I will invoke thy name over a sacrificial animal as your Prophet and your slave and your Apostle Muhammad does.” The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) gave him a share of his sacrificial animals, so he retained the pilgrim garb with the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) until both of them had completed the pilgrimage and the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) slaughtered the sacrificial animals on behalf of them both. When 'Ali came from the Yemen to meet the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) in Mecca, he hurried to meet him; and he had left in charge of his army one of his companions who had covered every man in the force with clothes from the linen 'Ali had left.
When the army approached, he went to meet them and found them dressed in the clothes before they came to the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.). He told him to take off the clothes before they came to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.); they did so and put them back to the spoil. When the men complained of 'Ali, the Messenger of God arose to address them and he said, “Do not blame 'Ali for he is too scrupulous in the things of God, or in the way of God, to be blamed.” Then the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) continued the pilgrimage, showed the men the rites and taught them the customs of their hajj. It was the farewell pilgrimage.
The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) had already known through divine revelation that 'Ali was to become his successor or the leader of the Muslim community, but he was waiting for the moment when there should be no more apposition to 'Ali among the Muslims. On his return from the farewell pilgrimage at Ghadir Khumm,23 on Dhu al-Hijja 18, 10 A.H. (March 20, 632), he received the revelation, ﴾O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot.﴿ (Q: 5/67).
He stopped at Ghadir Khumm to communicate the revelation to the pilgrims who accompanied him before they dispersed, and as it was very hot, they constructed him a dais shaded with branches. Taking 'Ali by the hand, he asked his faithful followers whether he, (Muhammad), was not closer (awla) to the believers than they were to themselves. The crowd cried out, “It is so, O Apostle of God.” He then declared the famous sentence, “He of whom I am the master (mawla) this man, 'Ali, is also the master (man kuntu mawlahu fa hadha, 'Aliun mawlahu)”.
He continued, “O God, be the friend of him who is his friend, and be the enemy of him who is his enemy; support whom he supports him and desert whom he deserts him. (Allahumma wali man walahu wa 'adi man 'adahu wa 'nsur man nsarahu wa 'khdhul man khadhalahu). Then Gabriel came down and revealed this verse, ﴾Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion. ﴿ (Q: 5/3).
After the communal prayer, he went into his tent and, on his order, 'Ali received in his tent, the congratulations of the Muslim men and women who greeted him with the title of the Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu'minin), among them was 'Umar b. al-Khattab.24
He also said, “People, I am a way mark for you. You will come to me at the heavenly waters (hawdh). Then indeed I will ask you about two important things (thaqalayn) which I have left behind. Take care how you follow me with regard to them, for God has informed me that they will never separate until they meet me. Indeed, I have left among you the Book of God and the offspring of my family (ahl al-bayt). Do not try to outdo them, for then you will be destroyed.”25
Then the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) returned to Medina and stopped there for Dhu al-Hijja, Muharram and Safar. He ordered to make an expedition to Syria [Palestine] and put over them Usama b. Zayd b. Haritha. He ordered him to lead the cavalry into the territory of the Bulqa' and al-Darum in the land of Palestine. The men got ready and all of the first Emigrants, including 'Umar and Abu Bakr went with him.
When the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) found the people tardy in joining the expedition of Usama, while he was suffering, so he went out with his head bound up until he sat in the pulpit. Addressing the people, who had criticized the leadership of Usama said, “He has put a young man in command of the best of the Emigrants and the Helpers.” After praising God as is His due he said, “O men, dispatch Usama's force, for though you criticize his leadership as you criticized the leadership of his father before him, he is as worthy of the command as his father was. Then he said, “May curse upon whom who disobeys the force of Usama.”26
While matters were thus, the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) began to suffer from the illness by which God took him to what honor the Almighty intended for him shortly before the end of Safar. It began when he went to Baqi' al-Gharqad in the middle of the night and prayed for the dead. Then he returned to his family and in the morning, his suffering began. The illness remained with him for several days and grew more serious. Before the dawn prayer, Bilal came when the Messenger of God was overcome by sickness. He asked, “Do I call for the prayer?” The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) gave him permission to make his call, and said, “Let one of the people pray before them, for I am too distracted by the final hours of my life.
“Order Abu Bakr”, said 'A’isha.
“Order 'Umar”, intervened in Hafsa
When the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) heard their words and the eagerness of each of them to exalt her own father and their discord about that, he said, “Have you put the shroud on the Messenger of God while he is still alive? Indeed you are like the consorts of Joseph.” Then he rose hurriedly fearing that one of the two men would go forward to lead the communal prayers. He had ordered them to go with Usama and he had no idea that they would be disobedient. He arose despite the fact that he could barely lift himself off the ground through weakness. 'Ali took his hand and al-Fadhl b. 'Abbas took the other. He leaned on them both and his feet dragged a trail along the ground because of his weakness.
When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) came out into the mosque, he found Abu Bakr had already got to the mihrab. He indicated with his hand that he should withdraw and Abu Bakr withdrew. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) took his place. He said the takbir and began the prayer, which Abu Bakr had begun before without taking any account of what he had already performed.27
After he had said the final greeting of the prayer, he returned home and summoned Abu Bakr, 'Umar and a group of the Muslims who had been present at the mosque. He asked them whether he had not ordered them to go with the army of Usama. They answered they had not gone because they did not want to ask the travelers about him.
“Dispatch the army of Usama, dispatch the army of Usama,” commanded the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.). He repeated it three times and then he fainted. He remained unconscious for a short time while all people around him were weeping. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) recovered consciousness and looked at them. Then he said, “Bring me ink and parchment (qirtas) to write for you a letter, after which you will never go astray. 'Umar said, “The Messenger of God is overcome by pain. You have the Holy Qur'an; the Book of God is enough for us.” The people present started to quarrel, so demanding that the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) should be given chance to write, others sided with 'Umar. As their noise fainted, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) told them to leave him.28 Then the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) passed away while his head was on 'Ali's chest.29
- 1. A member of the Yemeni tribes came to Mecca and sold his goods to a member of the Qurayshi tribes. The latter, however, failed to pay for the goods. The public protest of the wronged merchant gave such concern that four (or five) clans gathered in the house of 'Abd Allah b. Jud'an and made a convention in the following terms, “If anyone is wronged in Mecca, we will all take his part against the wrongdoer until he recovers what is owed to him from the one who has wronged him, whether he is noble or humble, one of us or not.” Quraysh called it the confederacy of the fudhul or 'hilf al-fudhul.' The Messenger of God said, “I witnessed in the house of 'Abd Allah b. Jud'an, a convention which I would not exchange for any number of fine camels. If I were invited to take part in it during Islam, I should do so.” See Ibn Sa'd (d.230/845), al-Tabaqat al-kubra, ed. Muhammad 'Abd al-Qadir 'Ata, Beirut, 1418/1997, 1: 103.
- 2. All the Qur'anic verse translations are based on The Qur'an with an English Paraphrase, translated by Sayyid 'Ali Quli Qara'i, Qumm, 2003, but rarely depart from it.
- 3. The Twelve Chiefs (Nuqaba' ithna 'ashar) were: Usayd b. al-Hudhayr, Abu al-Haytham b. al-Tayyahan, Sa'd b. Khaythama, As'ad b. Zurara, Sa'd b. al-Rabi', 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha, Sa'd b. 'Ubada, al-Mundhir b. 'Amr, al-Bara' b. Ma'rur, 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr, 'Ubada b. al-Samit and Rafi' b. Malik. See Ibn Sa'd, 3: 452-466.
- 4. See Tha'labi (d. 427/1035), al-Kashf wa al-bayan, ed. Nazir al-Sa'idi, Beirut, 1422/2002, 5: 46; Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, (d. 1402/1981), al-Mizan fi tafsir al-Qur'an, Beirut, 1391, 9: 211; Martin Lings, Muhammad, his life based on the earliest sources, 2nd imp., London, 1986, 116-119.
- 5. Waqidi (d. 207/823), al-Maghazi, ed. M. Jones, London, 1966, 1: 152.
- 6. Ibid, 147-152.
- 7. Ibid, 154.
- 8. The one who killed all of them was 'Ali b. Abi Talib.
- 9. Tabari (d. 310/923), Ta'rikh al-rusul wa al-muluk, ed. M. J. de Goeje, et al. Leiden, 1882-1885, reprint in Tehran, Intisharat Jahan; 3: 1402; Ibn Athir (d. 630/1233), al-Kamil fi al-ta'rikh, ed. C.J. Tornberg, Leiden, 1864, 2: 154.
- 10. Waqidi, 1: 323.
- 11. Ya'qubi (d. 284/897), Ta'rikh, Beirut, n. d., 2: 47.
- 12. Tabari, Ta'rikh, 3: 1411 f.
- 13. Waqidi, 1: 279.
- 14. Ya'qubi, 2: 48.
- 15. Tabari, Ta'rikh, 3: 1465; Ibn Athir, 2: 178-9.
- 16. Guillaume, 456.
- 17. See Ya'qubi, 2: 56 f; Tabari, Ta'rikh, 3: 1581; Ibn Athir, 2: 219 f; Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373), al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya, Cairo, 1351-8, 7: 237.
- 18. Among them was 'Abd Allah b. Sa'd b. Abi Sarh. The reason he ordered him to be killed was that he had been a Muslim and used to write down revelation; then he apostatized and returned to Quraysh. On the day of the conquest, he fled to 'Uthman b. 'Affan, his foster-brother. The latter hid him until he brought him to the Apostle (S.A.W.A.) after the situation in Mecca was tranquil, and asked that he might be granted immunity. The Apostle of God (S.A.W.A.) remained silent for a long time until finally he said yes. After leaving 'Uthman, he said to his Companions who were sitting around him, “I kept silent so one of you might get up and strike off his head!” One of the Helpers said, “Then why didn't you give me a sign, O Apostle of God?” He answered that a prophet does not kill by pointing. See Ibn Sa'd, 7: 344.
- 19. Tabari, Ta'rikh, 3: 1636; Ibn Athir, 2: 246.
- 20. Ibn Hisham, 4: 190.
- 21. See also Ya'qubi, 2: 76.
- 22. Ibn Shabba (d. 262/875), Ta'rikh al-Madina al-munawwara, ed. Fahim Muhammad Shaltut, Makka al-mkarrama, 1402, 2: 583; Ya'qubi, 2: 82; al-Hakim al-Naysaburi (d. 405/1014), al-Mustadrak 'ala al-sahihayn, ed. Yusuf Abd al-Rahman al-Mar'ashli, Dar al-ma'rifa, Beirut, 1406, 3: 163; al-Haskani (d. 490/1097), Shawahid al-tanzil, ed. Muhammad Baqir Mahmudi, Tehran, 1411, 1: 154-159.
- 23. A pool (or a marsh) situated in an area called Khumm, between Mecca and Medina, about three miles from al-Juhfa. As the place was frequently watered by rain, there were bushes and thorn trees, which provided large shady areas around the pool and the mosque, built in honor of the Prophet between the pond and the spring. See Yaqut (d. 626/1229), Mu'jam al-Buldan, ed. F. Wüstenfeld, Leipzig, 1866-1870, 2: 471.
- 24. Ya'qubi, 2: 112; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya 7: 349; L. Veccia Vaglieri, “Ghadir Khumm”, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition. Most of the sources, which form the basis of our knowledge about the life of the Prophet (Ibn Hisham, al-Tabari, Ibn Sa'd etc.), pass in silence over the Prophet's stop at Ghadir Khumm, or if they mention it, say nothing of his discourse, evidently fearing to attract the hostility of the Sunnites, who were in power, by providing material for the polemic of the Shi'ites who used these words to support their thesis of 'Ali's right to the caliphate. It is certain that the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) did speak in this place and utter the famous sentence (man kuntu mawlah …) for the account of this event has been preserved, either in a concise form or in a detail, not only by Ya'qubi, but also in the collections of traditions which are concerned as canonical, especially in the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal; and the hadiths are so numerous and so well attested by different isnads that it does not seem possible to reject them. 'Allama Amini has collected this tradition on the same subject and different wordings with their isnads from 110 of the Prophet's Companions, 84 of the Successors (tabi'in), 360 of the scholars ('Ulama') and so forth in his valuable book al-Ghadir. See 'Abd al-Husayn Amini (d. 1390/1970), al-Ghadir fi al-kitab wa al-sunna wa al-adab, Qumm, n.d.
- 25. Ya'qubi, 2: 112; al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022), Kitab al-irshad, trans. by I. K. A. Howard, Qumm, n.d. 127.
- 26. A. Shahristani (d. 548/1153), al-Milal wa al-nihal, ed. Muhammad Sayyid Kaylani, Beirut, 1381/1961, 1: 22.
- 27. al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 413/1022), Kitab al-irshad, 129-130.
- 28. 'Abd al- Razzaq b. Hammam San'ani (d. 211/827), al-Musannaf, ed. Iman Nasir al-Din al-Azhari, Dar al-kutub al-'ilmiyya, Beirut, 1421, 5: 438- 9; Bukhari (d. 256/870), Sahih, Dar Ihya' al-turath al-'Arabi, Beirut, n.d., 17; Ibn Sa'd, 2: 187.
- 29. See Nahj al-balagha, ed. al-Shaykh Muhammd 'Abduh, Egypt, n.d., 1: 432; Ibn Sa'd, 2: 202